How I started my small business… a personal story and journey

by on May 6, 2013

It was the same thing every weekday morning.

I would wake up with this horrible sense of dread. Sometimes there were tears.

I had to go to work. And I was miserable.

It didn’t start off this way. When I got the job, I was jazzed. I was tasked with managing the creation of a new company website. And if I do say so myself, it’s awesome. I loved the process. Worked with a killer web design team. Had a blast writing the content. Had visions of blogging and email newsletters dancing in my head.

The website launched. But it soon became clear that leveraging it, updating it, loving it, was not going to be a top priority. I had way too much other stuff on my plate.

I guess when the VP of Sales and Marketing questioned why a website was even needed in the first place, that should have been a pretty obvious red flag.

And it soon got worse. In the name of saving the company money, a staff member that left was not replaced. And faster than I could say I’m a marketing professional, I was answering the 1-800 number and wrapping gift baskets.

Not what I went to school for. Not where I envisioned my career.

Let’s back track a little

A decade ago, marketing was nowhere on my radar. I finished a history major in university and I wanted to be a teacher. I got disillusioned with the state of the Canadian public school system, so then I decided to go into ESL. I loved learning languages (I speak 4 myself) and was obsessed with traveling (I’ve visited every continent, 30+ countries and counting). Teaching international students was a great fit!

And then a marketing/sales job at an ESL school kind of fell into my lap. I decided to give it a try… and I really loved it. My new career path unfolded before me.

Headed to BCIT for a Marketing Communications Certificate which was where I got my 1st real taste of internet marketing in a course taught my a super smart and savyy local Vancouver marketing professional. I was hooked. I could use my love of writing (thank you history degree!), my love of communicating with people and my love of organizing and detail oriented tasks, to very good use in the world of online marketing.

So when I graduated, it was a job in internet marketing I was after. And I got a great one where I met one of my mentors, Laurent Munier. He was my boss and taught me so much. We worked together at rolling out an online marketing plan, and created an awesome new website… unfortunately, the business went under in the whole 2008 financial fiasco, just days before the website was to go live. But the experience was invaluable and my love of all things online promotion was solidified.

Back to the crying and the career derailment

I looked and looked for another opportunity. I thought I was going to lose my mind if I spent one more working minute doing nothing with my marketing savvy. But, I didn’t just want to jump into any old job. I wanted to find a great fit.

And I couldn’t.

And all I can say is thank you universe because that is ultimately what propelled me to start my own small business.

Another mentor of mine asked me what I wanted to do career wise. I said “own my own business, but I’m not ready now.” She just looked at me and very simply said “Why not?” It all snowballed from there.

She gave me the courage to jump off the deep end. To stop letting my fears stand in my way.

And jump off the deep I did. I gave my notice, and a few short weeks later, I was sitting at home in front of the computer, wondering what the heck I had gotten myself into, but knowing deep down that…

…it would all work out

And has it ever. Sure, the beginning was bumpy. I had to learn so much about being an entrepreneur. I needed to use my savings and give up on a back-backing trip to Cuba to bootstrap myself (and you know pay rent and that kind of stuff). But it all started coming into place.

I got my first clients (thank you to the small businesses that supported me right from the start – you know who you are and I appreciate you!!). I partnered with a great design team that I had worked with at my previous job (ECD Graphics – love you guys!). Found a solid, steady on going contract as a copywriter and social media strategist at a local Vancouver marketing consultancy (thank you Twitter, seriously).

And lo and behold, here I was, working from home, doing what I loved and working with small businesses and entrepreneurs in all kinds of different industries.

It just took a little courage. A little nudging from God Source (“negative” situations? Ha!). A little help (OK, a lot) from my family and my partner.

And a whole lot of small business enthusiasm and self-love.

I stand humbled in gratitude.

Sometimes, we get so mired down in the day-to-day running of our small businesses that we forget how far we’ve come since we started. Heck, we might even forget why we are doing this whole small business thing in the first place. Writing this post and reflecting on my journey was a very powerful and empowering process of remembrance and appreciation.

Having a job you love is so important. The way our society is currently structured, we have to spend the greater part of our lives working. I know that for many a small business owner, starting their own entrepreneurial journey was a way to bring joy and passion into all those working hours.

So maybe you might want to take a cue from me and write your own story down. And if you’ve been wondering what the heck I should blog about next, here you go ☺ Next post topic covered.

How did you start you business? Have you bared all in your own small business story? Share your personal journey, leave links to your content, let me know if my experience resonates with you. Meet you in the comments.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah June 5, 2013 at 1:17 am

what a great post, Martina ! So happy for you that things worked out and that you now enjoy what you do ! And glad Social Media introduced us and we get to collaborate on certain things ! Hugs – Sarah
Sarah recently posted..5 Must Haves on Your Home Page


Martina June 5, 2013 at 8:23 am

Thanks Sarah! I’m so glad that we found each other too 🙂


Marcus Schaller July 21, 2013 at 12:43 pm

You had me at “I guess when the VP of Sales and Marketing questioned why a website was even needed in the first place, that should have been a pretty obvious red flag.”

Yikes! There are few things worse than working for someone who just doesn’t care about the contribution you make.


Martina July 22, 2013 at 8:33 am

Haha! Yup, it’s tough but it might just be the push you need to move on 🙂 Thanks for stopping by Marcus!


Musonda July 30, 2014 at 7:52 am

It’s interesting that you studied history but decided to do something different that still drew from some of the skills you gained in completing your major. Many people think, “If I study X then I can only become X.” That, I think, is a false constraint.

I can also relate to your mini bouts of depression before going to your regular day job. lol. Anyhow, I finally decided to start publishing information on “getting started online”. Yep, I know, not another web marketing site!

But as you hinted at when you said, “Heck, we might even forget why we are doing this whole small business thing in the first place” you need to be passionate about what you do. And marketing, selling, copywriting, psychology, persuasion, people!, that’s what I’m interested in. Hell, I studied law in Australia but worked as a cable tv sales person during law school and then became a market research consultant immediately upon completion.

A couple of things I’ve learnt are:
1. A publisher business model is one of the best as far as steady cummulative growth is concerned. This is THE ideal model when you are busy because your efforts really compound. Each new article I post to my website causes it to either get more traffic or atleast maintain traffic. It’s the most forgiving model for the time poor start up. And if you add an automated quality newsletter to that? GOLD.
2.Secondly, as T. Harv Ecker says, if you want to get rich, sell products. As distinct from services, products allow you to multiply your income faster. And in a seemingly competitve market like web marketing or make money online or even dieting, the opportunities are even bigger because of all the joint venture partners you can collaborate with.

I’m currently working on a product and I gotta tell you, I have a real good feeling about things. Especially with some new insight from negative but truthful feedback I got about an ebook I wrote earlier.

Congratulations Martina and keep up the good work!
Musonda recently posted..Best Ways to Make Money Online


Martina Iring July 31, 2014 at 8:03 am

Thanks so much Musonda for taking the time to share your personal journey and some of the things you have learned along the way! It’s so true that you can apply your education and past work experience to many different situations – it’s all learning and growing! I thought with a history degree, the only thing I could do was teach… and here I am. Wish you all the best with your new venture 🙂


roy March 9, 2016 at 4:17 am

I really hate my job right now, and i always think how nice it would be if i can work at from home. I have general anxiety, go to work every morning just like go to war. I just don’t know how and what is a good business to do.


Martina Iring March 11, 2016 at 8:30 am

Hang in there Roy! I can definitely relate with the frustration of an unfulfilling job as well as the anxiety. That you are thinking about a shift and working from home is the first step in moving towards this goal. Intention is key and things will start to align. Be open to opportunities and start planning for the change. Wishing you all the best and do be in touch if you have any questions or need any support! Cheers.


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